KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University President John M. Dunn is in the Dominican Republic and Haiti this week to take part in the opening of a new Haitian university campus designed to serve 10,000 students and help that nation rebuild its education infrastructure.
Dunn was invited to attend the high-profile event in the coastal city of Cap-Haitien by Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez when Dunn was visiting the DR in July. Since 2008 WMU has had a partnership with the Dominican Republic that has brought more than 270 DR students to Kalamazoo for their undergraduate studies and produced 45 new Bronco alumni who are now living in that nation.
A delegation will travel from the Dominican Republic to the new Haiti campus Thursday, Jan. 12, for the formal opening of the $30 million facility. The new campus, part of the State University of Haiti system was built entirely by the government and private sector of the Dominican Republic as a gift to its island neighbor.
Construction on the project began in July 2010. The campus includes a series of three-story buildings, 72 classrooms, a library and computer, science and business labs as well as administrative and recreational facilities.
The new campus opening comes just two years after a devastating earthquake that killed thousands and destroyed the country's infrastructure. About 87 percent of Haiti's higher education facilities were destroyed or rendered unusable.
"President Fernandez was convinced from the start that his nation needed to help Haiti," Dunn says. "The Dominican Republic was on the front lines of the immediate response and his administration made an early commitment to invest in Haiti's higher education infrastructure by building this campus. I am honored by the invitation to be part of the opening festivities."
During the January trip, Dunn and Juan Tavares, director of international admissions and services for WMU's Haenicke Institute for Global Education, will host an alumni reception in the DR and meet with President Fernandez and the DR Minister of Education, Dr. Ligia Amada Melo de Cardona, who has visited WMU several times.